Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Guacho Nationals and Pato (Duck) Polo

This is at a place in central called la rural. A giant expositon hall and grounds for the farmers and ranchers to show stuff, buy stuff, trade stuff, and auction stuff. We sat in for an hour of aucton for young polo ponies. Two to three year olds with great bloodlines, but a few years shy of competition. 5 to 10 thou seemed to be the going rate, but we only watched a little. There were all manner of gaucho competitions. Small meets all around the country in various events determining the best cowboys to compete at the national level this week. We payed particular attention to an event that involves one horse and rider with two yearling cows in a very small ring. The gaucho and horse seperate and cram one cow at a time into the fence with the horse almost in the cows back to freeze it and then get the other one. The older gauchos clothing and the tack on their horses is simply incredible. The one fellow pictured above displays his everyday knife in a chased silver sheath. It´s used for ropes, cleaning hooves and eating steak. They are gorgeously made, horn or very hard wood handles, silver inlay and very personal tools. Love to have one, but i´d never use it and am trying to not accumulate masses of unused things.

On the left, one of the young riders, maybe 20, 22 in the competition and next, sort of the senior circuit guy at least sixty, but obviously earned his way into this final. This whole place is huge. Three indoor riding arenas, maybe 500 booths of people who make and sell saddles, boots, hats, silver decorate adornments, vet supplies, watering troughs, fencing, portable corrals, tractors, atv´s, and on and on. It´s so tempting to own on of those fantastic flat brimmed felt hats or one of the oversized berets favored in some regions. this may be the one trip a year to the capital for many, especially the young gauchos, and their sisters. By the way, there are female gauchos as most of these ranches are family affairs, and if you can ride like hell, and beat up a cow, you´re welcome to it. Anyway, these young ones have their year´s money in their pocket, and very carefully get new hats, embroidered shirts, fancier boots, more silver hoo haws for their horse tack and smilingly strut it around. Looks like logging dynastic families of oregon´s recent past. It´s a very horsey country, even here in the city. We´re only a dozen blocks from the equestrian center and the argentine horse club. Regular events, like the jumping over obstacles around a course in fancy dress. I´m obviously very horse illiterate, but it´s great spectator fodder. Polo has returned to bs. ar. Tourneys in various other provinces, if their not too far away, move the final to the city to the big polo field, and larger crowds. Actually planning on going way out in the sticks for one of these events. As has been mentioned, polo is a big money sport, so i´m sure that more than adequate accomodations will be available.

This is the old line guy still in the finals of , i´m sure must be a young man´s game. All the other senior types were very loud in their support, as was I.

This arena and it´s ornate decorative parts is further enhanced by a fine, artistic inflatable, coke can. Oh well, it´s everywhere. This is the spot where they play an original gaucho sport, pato. pato is duck and it was originally played with a live duck. Three guys, three horses and a sort of vertical basketball net at each end. Ride like mad, bend out of the saddle, grab the duck, pass it to your teammates, everyone must touch it once before you hurl it into, or, at the net. If two opposing players both have a grip on the duck, the horses pull away till one rider gives or is unhorsed. I guess they used up a lot of ducks. The modern version has a ball with ropes loosely laced around it to appease the animal rightists, i suppose. Fun game, more of a laughing participation than lethal competition.

A quick shot of pato as described above.

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